Case Studies

SEMCO LLC

Improving indoor environments with a line of innovative products

SEMCO LLC (SEMCO) has been in business since 1963, initially opening its doors as a sheet metal fabrication company. For more than 50 years, the company has grown and diversified. While the modern SEMCO is significantly larger than it was decades ago, the business remains dedicated to innovation and service in the HVAC industry. The operation now provides a range of independent products and product systems that improve energy performance, reduce noise and provide cleaner and healthier indoor environments.

Tom Rice, director of sales, serves alongside a strong management team tied into SEMCO’s parent company, the Fläkt Woods Group, with a headquarters in Columbia, Missouri. Tom’s team includes 300 professionals and is comprised of research and design, plant employees, sales associates and administrators. Three manufacturing facilities in Morrilton, Arkansas; Petit Jean, Arkansas; and Roanoke, Virginia, help to maintain a strong supply chain for customers throughout the world.

The company is best known as an indoor environment products manufacturer serving disciplines, such as air distribution and noise abatement. A majority of revenue comes through distribution of products for commercial applications, although SEMCO equipment is available for residential installation. Major markets include light commercial projects, such as hotels, dormitories and schools. Many products are designed to accommodate new construction and retrofit work.

A unique approach

SEMCO can be easily divided into two product categories: air and mechanical. The business offers noise abatement, acoustical panels and HVAC on the air side. On the mechanical end of the operation, SEMCO offers energy recovery wheel systems and chill beams. The product line is continually evolving to meet market demand and improve efficiency. In 2014, Rice notes there are more commercial applications than residential for the product line.

“We have an approach of indoor air quality first with a side benefit of energy savings,” Rice explains. “The ventilation issues tied to asthma, absenteeism and sickness have been reduced in many of the buildings where our systems have been installed. Our energy recovery products do not recover energy parasitically, meaning they do not use more energy to save energy. For example, our chilled beams provide localized cooling and comfort and reduce the amount of recycled air, which improves indoor air quality. End-users have the ability to institute economy periods, which can reduce energy usage.”

Air quality hits close to home for Rice. “My wife is a teacher and I have three boys,” he explains. “In my family, I am the only one who does not have asthma or allergies. I have a personal connection to improving indoor air quality.”

His team’s products reduce the instances dramatically of illness and chronic asthma, particularly in light commercial spaces, such as schools and hotels.

SEMCO LLC.It’s easy being green

As Rice mentions, sustainability is more of an added bonus for the product line than a primary focus. Still, these systems have allowed business owners to dramatically decrease energy bills and reduce impact on the environment. Recognized as sustainable HVAC building materials, SEMCO products have built a strong presence in the world of green building technology.

The company has been involved with the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (Greenbuild) for several years. According to Rice, he has attended the last four Greenbuild events.

“Associating ourselves with Greenbuild allows folks to know that these are the sort of things that we are concerned with,” Rice elaborates. “We can educate builders and the public that bringing more of the outside air in actually improves health. Our involvement in Greenbuild allows us to be seen by people who might not necessarily understand how the mechanical part of a building is so important.”

Putting the technology to work

With a growing market in sustainable building, SEMCO products are featured in facilities across the country. “Our geothermal chill beams and energy recovery system products are used at LEED Gold certified Clark County High School in Clark County, Kentucky, which recently received an award from SEMCO,” Rice notes. “The energy use at this school is less than half of the national average. Absenteeism dropped by 1.5 percent after installation and the school saved $90,000 in energy use.”

The company also supplied products for the University of Findlay in Ohio where the team provided materials for a university laboratory. The project included the LEED Gold certified facility’s complete energy system, which is using only 64 KBTU.

Another school project, Randolph School Community College in Asheboro, North Carolina, also utilizes SEMCO chill beams. This was a retrofit building, a former furniture factory building that was used to house the college. Rice and his team estimate that the building is now operating 50 percent more efficiently.

These portfolio pieces represent only a small portion of the facilities benefiting from SEMCO products. As Rice and his team continue to educate designers, contractors and consumers about the benefits of these products, the business is gaining steam. Over the coming years, SEMCO LLC will continue to grow, providing integrated air quality and energy efficiency solutions for a range of commercial applications.

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